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MDGs are our self–expression Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Giang Nguyen, Vietnam Apr 2, 2005
Citizen Journalism , Freedom of Expression   Interviews


MDGs are our self–expression We are Phuong Thao and Phuong Ngoc. As close friends, we often do many things together, but the most successful one has to be our participation in the contest “For a better Earth.” This contest was to raise the awareness of youngsters about the eight MDGs by means of music. For starters, was had to brush up on our music knowledge.

How we got started
I still remember it was during our military course when we decided to take part in this contest. We often read Hoa Hoc Tro, a popular youth magazine in Vietnam during our breaks; one day it announced this contest. The contest had three parts: the first was a crossword with hints of specific songs. The second required us to list as many songs as related to the MDGs. The third one was rather challenging--we had to write about our favorite song. Until that time, I only had some rough ideas about the MDGs after attending the presentation on “Thang’s journey” at my university. I was further encouraged by my class, who produced the answer to the first question of the contest. Many hands made the work light, I guess. So I decided to ask Ngoc to go for it. She was always full of creative ideas and did not waste much time on accepting my offer.

What we did
We were under a lot of pressure. First, a lot of friends joined me on this work. We had a total of six people to make a team, but it gradually dwindled. To make our work distinguishable, we had to collect and create many meticulous details that required great diligence and patience. In fact, due to our habitual procrastination, Ngoc and I devised our final product just three days before the deadline. It was literally a race against time. Ngoc even spent some sleepless nights finishing the decoration. I still recall the fear of falling asleep and waking up without a complete product to hand in. The idea of quitting had more than once lurked in our minds. But Ngoc was resolute. We were both instilled with the idea of “working to the last resources” and committed to following our work through. Looking back, Ngoc has no regrets after all. She said it gave her inspiration and motivation.

Our work surpassed other entries mostly due to our originality in displaying it. We arranged the songs around the eight goals, each with specific pictures to illustrate the lyrics. In fact, finding suitable photos was not as difficult as it looked on the surface photos. Most of the photos featured simple people in their everyday activities. One was of a woman in tattered clothing begging for food. Another featured a child reaching her hand high and leaving her stomach uncovered. All of them were struggling for a better life.

It was really fun to gather different pieces of life, in their most lively and realistic sense, to illustrate the somewhat abstract goals. Ngoc included a photo card of scattered Fortune Gods on the back cover. One day, she believed, our children would point at these paunchy Gods and ask who they are. They would not imagine that our ancestors used to go to these statues to wish for prosperity and get rid of poverty.

Our busy work left us only 30 minutes for the composition. Ngoc wrote the first and also the final draft to hand in. Her favorite song was “Hands” by Jewel. She began with the sounds of her grandmother’s steps back in the countryside, and then moved on to the most beautiful words of the song: “Poverty stole your golden shoe, but it did not steal your laughter/We’ll fight, not out of spite, for someone must stand up for what is right/We are never broken.” Yes, the fight against poverty and unhappiness is not an individual and hopeless one. It is what all people on this planet are doing, and should do together.

MDGs are on everyone’s minds
We were so happy when we won the competition. And we have changed a lot. Thanks to the competition, we had chances to explore, discover and express ourselves most exquisitely.

Ngoc said that youth always long for opportunities to express their opinions and attitudes or just to showcase their talents and demonstrate what they like doing. Ngoc likes using her brushes and creating pictures, so that kind of work never tired her. She also had her own thoughts about the MDGs. They are not abstract, remote or unfeasible. They are simply intrinsic in our minds, a transformation of humans’ long lasting wishes for plenty and happiness in life. They are the nice things people want to do for each other and the means to a better world.

Since then, Ngoc and I have looked for chances to pull our resources together again in such interesting opportunities. Unfortunately, we found none. We are still waiting for a special event to rekindle the burning fire of participating and doing something about the MDGs. We believe it won’t be long.



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Antony Felix O. O. Simbowo | May 4th, 2005
You are on the right track. Remember the downtrodden of the earth, the hungry, the poverty stricken, the HIV AIDS afflicted are watching your steps every time you fight for their rights... You have their blessings...Keep the tempo looming.

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